When it comes to contract negotiations with fighters, money is always important, but oftentimes it’s other issues that have to be hammered out to come to an agreement.
That’s according to UFC President Dana White, who says the inner workings around deals with UFC athletes aren’t always just about the number of zeroes being added to a paycheck. Everything from being on the cover of a video game to permission to walk to the cage with a flag can play a part in reaching an agreement on a contract.
“What’s hilarious is publicly it always seems like it’s about the money, and what’s crazy is it’s more about the little s*** – all the little small s*** around,” White said Thursday on The Pat McAfee Show. “You guys want more money, the guys filming this right now want more money, my social media guy sitting over here, everybody wants more f****** money. That’s human nature. But when you get to the level of the Conors and the Jon Jones’ and these guys, it’s the small s***. It’s all the little s*** that’s around.
“Jon Jones, Saturday night [at UFC 285] was the first time he’s worked in three years. So yeah, money is an issue, but he’s got some f****** money. It’s all the other s*** that goes with it.”
White said one of the most recent concessions made to strike a deal involved Conor McGregor after the former two-division champion was approached to coach the new season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Michael Chandler.
Accusations were made that McGregor personally brought in athletes that he chose to join the reality show, which meant other athletes were bumped from those slots.
White first dismissed complaints, and McGregor outright denied any preferential treatment. But then White confirmed that’s exactly what happened, though the UFC then made sure to take care of the fighters who were no longer participating on The Ultimate Fighter.
One example was Loik Radzhabov, who revealed he was removed from the TUF 31 cast the day before filming began. He then got a shot to immediately join the roster at UFC 285, where he picked up a win as a late replacement.
“It’s such small s***,” White said. “The problem is if you call us a league, if you have a league like we have, once you start giving to one, then you have to give to 850. ‘Why does he get to do this and I don’t get to do this?’ And I do that sometimes.
“That just happened recently where Conor McGregor was going to coach this season of The Ultimate Fighter and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, but I’m bringing two guys that I want to make it right onto the show.’ Then, of course, the f****** media [says], ‘Oh, that’s not fair, and what happened to those guys?’ Shut the f*** up. So we’ll take care of the guys that aren’t on it, and this is what Conor wants, we’ll give it to him.”
Overall, White praised McGregor for actually being one of the easiest fighters to work with when it comes to contract negotiations and deals that have to be made for his fights.
“He’s a great partner,” White said. “Conor is a great partner to work with. Conor and I have never had a problem. You think about this kid went from nobody knew who he was to one of the biggest superstars in all of sports. You’ve never really seen any public blowouts with me and him.
“A lot of times when you get that level of fame and money, it f**** everything up, right? That’s never happened with me and Conor. We’ve always been solid. He’s a good businessman. He’s a smart kid, he knows what he’s doing.”
Currently, McGregor is still filming TUF 31, with the show set to debut on May 30 and run through early August on ESPN.
Afterward, McGregor is expected to clash with Chandler, though White admits that details about that fight are still being hashed out, from the date to the location and even the weight class.
“We’re still working on that and figuring that out,” White said. “There’s a lot of work to do on the Conor fight still.
“They’re going to fight — when, isn’t guaranteed. When, what weight class, what are these guys doing. Conor’s filming this season of The Ultimate Fighter with Chandler, but Conor’s still coming back from that shin break. There’s still a lot of questions and ifs, and we don’t have answers yet.”